By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Solon senior Jacob Coons has a future filled with playing football, but it’s the other sport in his life that has center stage for now.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Coons is nearing the end of his high school basketball career and he wants to savor every moment along the way.
Coons led the charge on Friday with 20 points as Solon broke open a close game against Clear Creek Amana late in the second quarter and then cruised to an 82-50 victory on the road.
The Spartans improved to 12-8 overall with the victory, while the Clippers fell to 2-18.
“We’ve been trying to work all week that this is pretty much pre-playoffs, this is where you’re trying to prepare yourself for the playoffs,” said Coons, who has signed a letter of intent with the University of Iowa for football. “So we’re trying to have the mentality that this is a first-round game and we need to bring our best game every time.”
Coons was aggressive from the start on both ends. His size and physicality made it hard for the Clippers to get open looks near the basket.
“It’s like a blanket and you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Solon coach Jason Pershing said of Coons. “It’s just an extreme comfort level. You also know that he is never going to take a play off. You know exactly what you’re going to get. You’re going to get one-hundred percent effort one-hundred percent of the time.
“That’s what we have preached since day one.”
Coons had plenty of help in Friday’s game from a supporting that includes his younger brother, A.J. Coons, a talented 6-3 freshman. The younger Coons finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
“It’s a dream,” Jacob Coons said of playing with his younger brother. “We’ve always played together in the backyard or whatever. But this is the only time we’ll be able to do it (in high school). So we’re just trying to get the most out of it.”
A.J. Coons said he plays with more confidence just from having his big brother on the court with him.
“He is the most physical player that I have ever played against,” A.J. Coons said of his older brother, who earned all-state accolades in football as a tight end and outside linebacker. “And I just feel that he can get any rebound and score whenever he wants to in the one-one-one matchups in the post.
“I feel like when you’re struggling out with the guards with pressure, you can just get it inside and get a consistent bucket form him. It’s very comforting just to know if I’m in trouble and can just throw it in to him and I know he’s going to go get it and make a play.”
With Clear Creek Amana so pre-occupied with trying to contain Jacob Coons, that created open looks on the perimeter as Solon made seven 3-point baskets.
The Spartans also fueled their transition offense by forcing numerous turnovers on defense.
“We pride ourselves on the defensive end, which helps with our offense,” Jacob Coons said. “So if we play well on defense; that sort of sets the tone for our offense.”
The Clippers stayed close for nearly two quarters and trimmed the deficit to 26-22 when Dylan Sheely made a 3-point basket with less than 2 minutes left in the second quarter.
The Spartans then closed the first half with a 10-0 scoring run, with eight of the points coming from the Coons brothers.
“I’m just having fun playing with Jake,” A.J. Coons said. “We’re trying to figure out our chemistry and play together and work off each other’s games and play as long as we can together.”
Senior Tate Thomsen led the Clippers with 12 points, but he only made 2-of-14 field-goal attempts. Junior Camden Armstrong also finished in double figures with 10 points.
The Clippers made six baskets in the first quarter, but were held to just seven baskets combined in the last three quarters. Free throws were a big part of Clear Creek's offense as it made 19-of-21 attempts overall.
“Obviously, we focus on defense for eighty percent of our practices,” Pershing said.
Clear Creek played without its third leading scorer, senior Cory Siders, on Friday because of an illness.
Jacob Coons and the rest of the Solon starters sat for most of the fourth quarter as reserves for both teams finished the game.
Solon 15 21 25 21 – 82
Clear Creek Amana 12 10 21 7 – 50
Solon (82) – Jacob Coons 7-13 6-8 20, Luke Ira 2-5 2-2 7, Zach Cusick 2-4 0-0 6, Ben Krutzfeldt 5-9 0-0 12, Sterling McIlravy 4-9 1-1 9, A.J. Coons 6-9 0-0 14, Luke Schaekenbach 1-1 0-0 2, Andrew Steffens 1-2 0-0 3, Jack Stahle 1-2 0-0 2, Ryan LaDage 1-1 0-0 2, Ethan Yahr 0-0 0-0 0, Greg Brandt 1-2 0-0 2, Grady Wolfe 0-3 1-2 1, Alan Milliman 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Allen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 32-61 10-13 82.
Clear Creek Amana (50) – Tate Thomsen 2-14 7-8 12, Drake Mougin 3-7 0-0 6, Tyler Hallett 2-5 5-5 9, Camden Armstrong 3-7 2-2 10, Tyler Schrepfer 0-4 0-0 0, Kobey Schlotman 0-3 2-2 2, Dylan Sheely 1-2 0-0 3, Nolan Schwarting 1-3 2-2 5, Jackson Pettinger 0-0 0-0 0, Devon Liebe 0-1 0-0 0, Korbyn Purdy 0-1 1-2 1, Quentin Gisleson 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-48 19-21 50
3-point goals – Solon 7 (Cusick 2, Krutzfeldt 2, A.J. Coons 2, Steffens); Clear Creek Amana 5 (Armstrong 2, Thomsen, Sheely, Schwarting). Fouls – Solon 21, Clear Creek Amana 16.